How Conformal Cooling Can Benefit the Mould Manufacturing Industry
The advantages of using 3D printing for manufacturing industry are well-established. One of the major aspects of additive manufacturing technologies is metal 3D printing and, the use of conformal cooling to make injection moulds.
Conformal cooling for metal 3D printing offers a major solution for a longstanding problem in convention injection moulding techniques. In the latter, cooling of parts is carried out by way of channels, which are characteristically straight lines. This can often result in the build-up of residual stress, causing warpage and uneven cooling.
Conformal cooling channels, on the other hand, conform to the shape of the geometry. The catch is, however, that conformal channels are difficult to produce using traditional methods, thereby necessitating the use of 3D printing services. Using metal 3D printing services, conformal cooling channels can be created in a variety of cross-sections, viz. rectangular, circular, elliptical. In other words, exactly as per the part’s cross-section.
Conformal Cooling Process
The process of conformal cooling is designed to aid temperature uniformity and rapid uniform cooling for the injection moulding process. Conformal cooling typically follows four steps:
- Part selection, in which an injection moulding plastic part is selected.
- Analysis of cooling time, volumetric shrinkage and deflection.
- Designing the conformal cooling channel.
- Printing the mould insert according to the results of the analysis.
Benefits of Conformal Cooling
Large production volumes and parts with complex geometry are recommended in order to derive the maximum benefits out of conformal cooling. The various advantages of the process include:
- Improvement in the dimensional stability of parts.
- Minimizing warpage and shrinkage of parts.
- Increasing production by up to 50%.
- Improving the quality of surface finish.
- Increasing tool life by 1.3-1.8 times.
- Minimizing the thermal gradient during the proves of cooling.
- Significantly reducing the incidence of part rejection.
- Reducing the requirement of such resources like labour, equipment, space and energy.
- Expediting the time of delivery.
Overall, the conformal cooling process can also help reduce energy consumption during the manufacturing, while also minimizing the generation of scrap, not to mention the increased productivity and efficiency.